Friday, January 23, 2009

21st Century Thinking-My Blog Visits

I continue to stretch my thinking on 21st Century Learning thanks to so many great people who are writing about their own learning and thinking.  As I figured, many of these issues are not specific to technology or 21st Century.  Instead, they are about teaching and learning.  Not really different issues, but I think 21st Century tools give us a great opportunity to really rethink all that we are doing in education--what is our purpose? how do we best support kids? etc.
One of my favorite posts of the week comes from Generation YES Blog "Technology Literacy and Sustained Tinkering Time."  The article looks at the research about SSR and what that might tell us about the time kids (and all learners) need to play with tools.  I have been thinking a lot about this lately--the fact that we need time to "play" and learn these tools in a way that is fun and no-stress.  Definitely an article worth reading and thinking about. The title alone made me think!
There is a Guest Post on Learn Me Good from Kevin of Kevin's Meandering Mind called "Who's the Expert Anyway?", Kevin reflects on the fact that many of our students are much farther ahead than we are in their technology skills and understanding.  So, what does that mean for us?  How do we take what we know about teaching and learning and help kids grow who have experiences with 21st Century skills that we don't?

Wesley Fryer writes about Self-Directed Learning in his post "Professional School sand Self-Directed Learning".  My favorite line from this post is "Dependent learners remain limited learners."  So true and I think that our most struggling kids become the most dependent and then the most limited.  I worry about this often.  
I love David Warlick's post titled, "What is the Purpose of Education?" in which he reflects on his own answer to the question. He reflects on the recent post by Karl Fisch and says "What struck me in hindsight was that these students were earning respect." I think this is so much of everything about schools--are kids owning their own learning or jumping through some hoops that someone creates for them?  This is another reminder that 21st Century Literacy is so much more than technology.

Tim Tyson asks readers two great questions this week in his recent post. Do you sincerely believe that our students in today's schools can make the world a better place because of their school work? AND What percentage of students in your school actually sincerely made the world a better place because of their school work this year? Stop over and add your answers to the post. Definitely something to think about especially when added to David Warlick's post.

Why Do Some Kill Student Blogging? is a great post by Ryan Bretag. He writes about an issue that I have been concerned about for a while--how schools kill blogging when we ask kids to keep a blog. We often do this by making it formulaic--not the kind that we want to read. For me, this is one of the big issues of 21st Century Learning.  What good is using tools if the thinking and communication is taken away and students just follow our templates?  How do we help students use these tools in authentic ways?  I remember this early when kids were creating websites. I would go to classrooms where kids were "creating" websites, only to see that they all looked the same because the teacher created the template and told kids what to put where. As a writing workshop teacher, this issue that Ryan Bretag brings up is a writing issue--how do we take these new genres and formats-that are coming out because the ways we communicate are expanding-and keep them authentic for the kids. So that they actually think, write, create?

Love this post by Angela at The Cornerstone Blog called "The Internet vs. 'Real' Reading" because I think that many of us are feeling the same way.  We love books but are finding that more and more of our reading time is spent online.  How do we come to peace with that--get over some of the guilt?

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a report, asking us to reevaluate learning environments. A big task when small changes seem so hard. But a very important thing to think about--are we stuck in very old models for learning?

And one new tool I found this week that I am definitely checking out--hoping to buy one for home to play with this week--is Animationish.  I found it thanks to Tim Lauer. The kids at his school seem to be doing so many amazing things.  A fun thing about Animationish is that it was created by Peter H. Reynolds--you know, the author/illustrator of THE DOT, ISH and SOMEDAY. He is also the illustrator of JUDY MOODY.  Imagine what kids could do with this program.  One more possibility for kids as they create.

So, no answers. Just lots more to think about:-)


  1. GReat post!! You were busy this week. I loved the animation-ish! I also appreciated the link to the post on kids blogging and authenticity. There was so much to process...I am bookmarking this!!

  2. Franki,

    Thank you for this excellent post. I'd seen the post by David Warlick but none of the others. I'm hoping to really integrate some 21st C. teaching practices this semester, and you've provided me an excellent place to start thinking about why and how to do it.

  3. I love these updates. I'm trying hard to do the 21st century thing!

  4. Carol, it's not hard--just good teaching! I think Franki herself said something to the effect that it's not really about the technology or the "21st C," just about doing what's right for the students and stretching our thinking.

    Thanks, Franki!

    (ps I apologize in advance for the satirical version of your 21st C tag I'm going to use tomorrow when linking to Alphie Kohn's new essay. He's NOT poking fun at you guys, just the ways that some people in our profession are twisting the whole "21st C" thing into another meaningless buzzword, which you are definitely NOT doing, with your focus on good teaching.)


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